Meet Chad Holmes, Business Athlete
Chad Holmes, President for Launch’s Managed Services division, is responsible for growing both Launch and its clients’ businesses. It’s no easy task, but Chad believes strongly in the potential of high performing teams with a common vision—the ideological product of a lifetime of team sports and successful business partnerships. Chad has a proven method when it comes to business, one he learned at age 11 when he and a friend were challenged to a climbing contest. The friend dashed to the canyon wall and began climbing immediately, but Chad stepped back, surveyed, picked his path, and climbed quickly to the top. His friend, meanwhile, got stuck. The lesson Chad took that he still applies today: Plot your course, and then move strategically and quickly. Often, speed without thought is counterproductive.
Making carefully planned but disruptive business decisions is something Chad has some experience with. As a young professional, he ran a mobile startup in Venezuela, before wireless communications had become a household technology. He then started a successful wireless data consulting company of his own before jumping into executive positions at Accenture and Technisource. Now Chad makes decisions and leads successful ventures for Launch and its clients. We wanted to know more about him and how he got here, so we sat down with him:
Launch: What is your role, really?
CH: I lead the management consulting division and managed service offerings within that. Where we provide IT operations talent, delivery methodologies, and a customer centric approach to deliver critical technology-centric functions for our clients. I typically engage by assessing current IT capabilities, identifying the risks and inefficiencies, and suggest ways to remedy risks and improve ongoing operations.
Our services are delivered through differentiated delivery models that can consist of on-premise, onshore, offshore or some combination to meet the global needs of our clients. The services our division provides create long term partnering relationships with our clients, and annuity revenue for our company. Enabling us to further invest in growth.
Launch: What was the “aha” moment for you? When did you know you wanted to do this?
CH: I worked in marketing first, doing sports marketing for GTE (which is now Verizon). I was selected to participate in a management development program, where you do “tours of duty” in different business units of the company. I wanted to get experience in International business in a fast growing technology area so I created my own “tour of duty” by reaching out to the President of a division that was pursuing a license to start a wireless telecom company in Venezuela. The “aha” moment was that you can “create your own path”. Our team won the bid to start up the company in Venezuela and I served as the Director of Marketing and Sales. Not long after we launched service in Venezuela, our VP literally disappeared and returned to the US, thus further increasing my scope of responsibilities in a “baptism by fire” sort of way where I had to just figure things out and really hone my prioritization skills.
Launch: Why did you want to work with Launch?
CH: My company in Atlanta had recently been acquired by Randstad, a $2.5B multi-national company and I quickly concluded that it was not a great cultural fit nor where I wanted to invest my career in the long term. I was in Seattle in the summer of 2012 visiting friends and family, one of which is the CFO at Launch, Casey Stenzel whom I went to college with. He encouraged me to meet John [Sercu], said that “we had a lot in common”. Talks led to confirming mutually aligned goals and an opportunity to come join the executive team. I’m a Husky (UW graduate), my wife is from Seattle, and our kids were young enough to where the move wouldn’t be overly disruptive…it just made sense on many fronts.
Launch: What were some of the unexpected hurdles of pursuing a career in tech?
CH: I’m a recovering perfectionist — I used to feel that I needed to know everything before I was prepared for a key meeting. I would try to research to get to a point where I felt like I was a subject matter expert, prepared for nearly any question that was thrown at me…but with the speed of change in technology it’s kind of like chasing your tail. As I’ve matured and expanded my base knowledge of technology and business, I think you just need to know and understand business, know how to apply technology innovatively, be a good listener, and to be yourself in order to be successful.
Launch: What’s the most important piece of advice you wish you’d gotten?
CH: Take advantage of leverage. Like I said, don’t feel like you need to know it all—focus on the right things and find people who complement your skill set to bring with you.
Launch: What would you drop everything to do at this moment, if you had the chance?
CH: I grapple between two things: coaching high school football, or traveling and experiencing other cultures as a food and travel specialist.
Launch: What is your theme song?
CH: I’m a mood-oriented listener, so I don’t know if there’s just one song…I know it used to be “Bad,” by U2. If I want to get pumped up? It’s got to be “I am the Highway” by Audioslave.
Launch: What do you wish more people knew about? Why do you care about this issue?
CH: I was on the board of a charity group in Georgia, a center for abused children. I think there’s a lack of awareness about how much child abuse there is in this country and how much you can do to help. The football teams I coached would go do a work day at the Murphy-Harpst Center for Abused Children every year, for instance—landscaping, renovations, etc. It doesn’t have to be money.
From advocating for abused children to coaching youth football to consulting on multimillion-dollar corporate deals, Chad Holmes is the kind of business athlete Launch is proud to have on the team. Innovative thinking, a strong belief in teamwork, and the mettle to invest in bold ventures as well as long-term growth are vital attributes in an IT-centered company. Plot the course, then move quickly. It’s a good lesson to learn—one that will take you and your company further, faster.